Riverside County urges businesses to offer veteran discounts

Goal is to make Riverside County the most "veteran friendly location in the nation"

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Making Riverside County the``most veteran friendly  location in the nation'' is one of the goals of a discount program that businesses countywide are being asked to consider ahead of Veterans Day.

   The Veteran Assistance Leadership of Riverside County -- VALOR -- committee is seeking the voluntary participation of store owners, corporations and other private sector interests in giving price breaks to former and current members of the U.S. Armed Services.

   ``We're asking the local community to support veterans for their patriotic service to the country,'' said Riverside County Foreign Trade Commissioner Tom Freeman, a California National Guardsman and chairman of the VALOR committee.

   The committee was formed by the Board of Supervisors in March to create  or recommend programs that directly benefit current and former servicemen and women.   Its first act was to identify and attempt to assist nearly 1,000 homeless vets with finding permanent housing and jobs.

   To date, the county has helped more than 130 vets and their families with finding homes.

   Freeman said the idea for a countywide discount program was hatched following the board's decision in August to waive entrance fees for retired and honorably discharged service members and their loved-ones seeking admittance to the Riverside County Fair & Date Festival in Indio and the Edward-Dean Museum &  Gardens in Cherry Valley.

   Fees are also waived for active-duty and former service members who use county-operated boat ramps on Veterans Day and Memorial Day, and vets can park free in county garages and outdoor parking lots anytime of the year.

   Military identification cards or discharge certificates are required before fee waivers can be applied.

   ``We want to create the most veteran friendly location in the nation right here in Riverside County,'' Freeman told City News Service. ``We hope to attract men and women getting out of the service, who have been honorably discharged, so that they purchase homes here, work in businesses here and apply their skills and leadership for our benefit.''

   According to Freeman, one corporate entity has agreed to implement a discount program so that vets can get price breaks at a variety of franchises in the Coachella Valley, including Del Taco, Subway and Starbucks.

   The county will provide a poster that any business can display at a checkout counter, notifying customers that discounts are available.

   ``We leave it to the business to decide what percentage to take off the person's final cost,'' Freeman said. ``They could display the poster prominently on Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Patriot Day or for however long they choose.''

   Businesses interested in making discounts available can obtain posters and more information by clicking on the following link: http://www.countyofriverside.us/business/VetDiscountposter.html   

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